The Virus

Resisting a second and third glance, at Melbourne artist Mariah Bordeaux, was akin to silently stepping in molten granite. Internationally renowned food critic Pierre Broderick, abandoned his scathing attack on the worst dessert of the century, to admire her. She was the most exquisite creature in his universe. That visual banquet strolled from the restaurant and his life, before he could half jokingly ask her to be his wife. Was she the artistic genius of his imagination, a malevolent dunce with less creative flair than a garage porn director, or somewhere in between?

That night, Pierre dined at a religious themed restaurant called The Fallen Angel. It’s statue of Yahweh’s pupils are disco balls. His beard is a haven for bats. The statue of Buddha is a Juke Box. The Fallen Angel is a mecca for sinners. All the coolest demons hang out there. Satan has been a regular since he bought the business from Dick Cheney in the nineties. These days the Prince of Darkness is a helicopter salesman, who says he shares Pierre’s love of bird watching, mountain climbing and knitting.  Pierre was certain Satan’s bright red skin and razor sharp horns weren’t an illusion. He shared his yearning for Mariah with the notorious soul collector, who promised to help. They arranged a future meeting.

Pierre’s clairvoyant confidante, Jeremiah Elijah the 2nd, a proud franchisee of Sutton’s Psychic Therapy, also drank at The Fallen Angel from time to time. He claimed that a smorgasbord of delicious luck awaited his gustatory adviser. Pierre probed for intel on Mariah Bordeaux.

“My spirit guide said something about that vivacious Goddess being imprisoned in an otherwise empty cage, for a month, without dropping a dress size” was all the self proclaimed sage had to say. No amount of money could prompt him to elaborate on this miscellaneous titbit. How did it qualify as useful information? It seemed to be nothing more than intriguing trivia.

“Wear odd socks, one golden, one midnight black, for good luck,” Elijah advised Pierre,
on the eve of Mariah Bordeaux’s debut exhibition. Her psychedelic self-portraits hung beside a series of paintings depicting a golden hornet’s invasion of a glow worms fortress. The slithering warriors, composed symphonies via the shifting patterns on their luminous skin. In the final painting of the series, the classical music loathing hornet retreats.

As Pierre sought Mariah’s autograph, she looked down her patrician nose at his off the rack clothes. Once she caught a glimpse of his odd socks he thought she’d call security.

“At last, the man with one golden sock and the other as dark as a forest night.
My psychic told me he’s the cunnilingus magician I seek.”

“Jeremiah, you sly dog,” Pierre texted.

“Ready to get on your knees Pierre?” Mariah purred.

“Sorry darling, I was hoping for someone
more compassionate than a branding iron,
closer to monogamy than a bonobo and less sacrilegious than a brothel in a cathedral.
Declaring yourself more enticing than Mary, Mother of God, in a mini skirt and crotchless panties, is the most chaste remark you’ve made all evening.”

“Whatever, you’ll soon be addicted to my depravity,
you down on your knees is as sure as gravity” Mariah crooned.

Pierre swaggered away like the ultimate alpha, but he felt like an alcoholic fleeing a bar.
Run, a diver surfacing from the ocean of his subconscious pleaded. The click of Mariah’s high heels was as hypnotic as tribal drums. She corralled Pierre in a storeroom and parted the teeth of his zipper with bewitching slowness.

In his disembodied state, Pierre heard someone squealing in delight. The journey into Mariah’s wild, hungry eyes reduced a burst water main humbling orgasm
to a mere footnote.

“It’s time for your diving lesson Pierre” Mariah breathed in his ear.

With every trace of tension gone, the marble storage room floor felt as good as a four poster bed resplendent in silk sheets. Mariah wandered off, the moment the waves of pleasure spreading from her epicentre to her extremeties abated. Pierre was too lost in bliss to complain.

After weeks of fasting, Pierre still felt as full as an anaconda that treats jaguars like jelly jeans. “Legend has it Mariah was imprisoned in a glass ball for a month, without food or drink, without dropping a single dress size.” Jeremiah Elijah, Pierre’s psychic adviser, once said, in the mock serious tone he’d mentioned the Lochness Monster gate crashing his pool party. Hunger pangs finally hit. There was only one food Pierre craved. Within minutes of pleasuring Mariah, he felt like he’d won the world pie eating championships. The former food critic was more puzzled than a Neolithic tribesman in a quantum computing lab. It felt forever since food had appealed to him. Apparently his passion for garlic and basil sprinkled barramundi, soaked in lemon juice, followed by homemade passionfruit and pineapple iced cream was gone forever. 

“Somehow your divine nectar is as nourishing as a feast for fifty, Mariah. How could this be” Pierre probed.

“Nutritionists and pathologists say my magic well contains fewer calories than diet cola.
It’s infested with DNA reprogramming viruses that render food as toxic as funnel web venom and the appetite for everything else as absent as Hitler’s conscience. Carriers of the virus convert air pollution into nutrients. The enzyme that enables them to do so needs to be replenished by my love tunnel tsunamis, on a regular basis. Too long without worshipping my honey pot and they’ll be more emaciated than an anorexic junkie.”

Pierre hadn’t needed Mariah to tell him that pure wilderness air made him hungry. He’d recently sold his investments property, to buy a helicopter from Satan, to travel to areas bathed in pristine wilderness air and return before the hunger pangs became too severe. It certainly hadn’t occurred to Pierre that it was pollutants, rather than Mariah’s orgasms, that were stimulating his body to manufacture all the carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals he needed though. Once Mariah had grown bored with Pierre and banished him from her harem, she finally admitted there was a cure.

“The man who sells the cure is the same man who created the viruses. He used to work in a germ warfare lab. He’s quite the entrepreneur. He sells helicopters too”

“Is his name Satan by any chance?”

“No, I think it’s Sutton. He owns a chain of psychic healing sanctuaries too”

Jeremiah Elijah Junior, was a sly dog alright. He’d always said that he was well connected in the business world but it never occurred to Pierre that he was in Satan’s inner circle.

“How did you get the virus Mariah?”

There was a faraway, dreamy look in her eye, as she described the consequences of pleasuring Satan, with a lot of unnecessary detail. If Mariah could be believed, Satan’s erections were more spectacular than the Empire State Building, he had the staying power of a nuclear submarine and the rhythm of a professional dancer.

Pierre returned to The Fallen Angel. The helicopter salesman no longer had horns
or skin as bright red as Mariah’s stretch lace lingerie. He insisted his surname was Sutton, not Satan

“I heard you’ve been banished from Mariah’s harem, where are you going to replenish your stocks of the food replacement virus now?”

Satan, or Sutton as he calls himself these days, winked lasciviously,
as he poured a test tube of the virus into his  beer.

“I must return to my life as a food critic, how much for the cure?”

“Give me your soul and you can have all the cannisters of clean air you like, with the fruity fragrance of your choice, for a one of payment of only $20,000.
I can throw in a branch of Sutton’s Psychic Therapy, for 5% off, if you wish. How about a free meal, to replenish your strength afterwards.”

Pierre decided that flying his helicopter to the countryside, to bask in clean air until the virus was gone and then stumble to the nearest restaurant, before he collapsed and died, was preferable to emptying his bank account in exchange for a bottled version of the cure. He was overwhelmed with daydreams of future three Michelin star adventures. In the meantime, any pub that sold potato wedges, sweet chilli sauce and sour cream would do. His plans were thwarted by the mysterious disappearance of his helicopter engine. A phone call revealed that an anonymous thief was prepared to sell it back to him for precisely $20,000.

When Pierre finally spotted and confronted Jeremiah Elijah Junior, his former psychic adviser was all smiles.

“When someone as powerful as Satan, or whatever he calls himself these days, is involved it’s hardly worth the risk of openly sabotaging his plans. You can’t say I didn’t try to warn you though. Why would you a trust a woman who can eat nothing for a month for a month without losing weight?”

“You pathetic charlatan, how much money did you make out of this scam?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Satan doesn’t offer bribes when he can get his way through intimidation. The father of lies is a scary guy.”

“Don’t lie to me” Pierre roared, as he shoved Jeremiah with all his might, sending him sprawling backwards into the African Boxthorn growing in the nearby garden. The tyre shredding spikes tore into his flesh.

Mariah Bordeaux’s timing was uncanny. She strolled around the corner carrying a box of boutique scar removal creams and disinfectants. Apparently the economic downturn had forced her to get a second job. Pierre caught a glimpse of her brain melting, black lace adorned cleavage, as she bent over to retrieve some product samples. Two of the buttons on her satin blouse popped open. Pierre was busy fantasizing about gently nibbling on Mariah’s colossal dark nipples, when it occurred to him that he’d never seen Satan and Mariah at the same time.



Biohazard, Halloween Signage by Bill Dickinson


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